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This is the second monthly column discussing a few of the concerns and issues that have come to me in New Mexico House District 43 in the past 30 days. It is a short column intended to recognize both the diversity and community in this beautiful part of Northern New Mexico. If anyone in District 43 has state government issues (1) that are referenced in the column or (2) are not being addressed, I welcome questions or comments.
During the last 30 days, l gave three presentations on the last legislative session to local organizations. Since the even-year sessions are 30-day “budget sessions”, the presentations discussed (1) how the New Mexico budget is developed, (2) major components of the budget, and (3) summarized the outcome. The presentations also discussed what non-budget issues were addressed (and not addressed) in this “budget session.” If any organization wishes to host such a presentation, I am happy to oblige—it is about 30 minutes, but usually goes longer with questions. One of the presentations—to a local church group—had an added component: the moral dimensions of serving in the legislature.
Another important event in early April was a meeting with legislative staff, a member of the Legislative Finance Committee, and members of the executive branch to discuss control of cash balances in SHARE, the major financial system recently implemented (with considerable challenges) in the state. The discussion focused on how to better use SHARE capabilities to assist agencies in managing their budgets, especially their cash balances. I was invited to attend because of my information systems and government agency background.
Subsequent to the meeting I met with Municipal League officials to discuss issues raised in Jemez Springs about challenges facing small volunteer fire departments.
The Municipal League represents incorporated municipalities in New Mexico and has an outstanding track record of advocacy for local government. They will be following up with other small towns. This issue will require more time and effort.
On April 5, I attended the Los Alamos Community Health Council (LHCHC) meeting held at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.
Attendees are local health and social service providers with in-depth insight into issues facing the neediest residents of Los Alamos. The major topic of discussion was the county budget hearings. Funding for a social services director and an indigent care manager were key issues because of potential impacts on LACHC members.
I spent considerable time trying to help the Dixon Apple Orchard operators resolve issues with the State Land Office (the apple orchard is on land leased from the Land Office). I have been emphasizing to both parties the need to save as many remaining assets as possible — about two-thirds of the trees are still alive — with the idea that the orchard might return to business in a few years.
Finally, the ongoing calls, letters, and emails from constituents are a constant, varied challenge that provides valuable insights into how our government affects people throughout the district and the state. I have dealt (or am dealing) with concerns as varied as criminal justice system deficiencies, developmental disabilities programs, red light cameras, tax policy, the proposed horse slaughterhouse in Roswell, school bullying, and the old bath house at Giggling Springs in Jemez Springs.
I also receive “prepackaged” emails generated by people through partisan websites. While interesting and occasionally informative, I only answer the latter if time allows.
Representative for District 43